spreadsheet

In Part 1, I presented a team that I recently drafted in a 10-team league (the team for which I originally planned going RB5), and I gave some guidelines as to how to exploit your league’s draft history in determining whether RB5 is really a strategy you should employ. Basically, if you’re league mates tend to draft lots of QBs and TEs in the first 5 rounds, an RB5 strategy is unnecessary. If, however, your league mates tend to wait on QBs and TEs, then RBs will be at a premium, and RB5 may be a strategy to consider.

Here’s the squad I ended up drafting for my Boykinz n the Hood franchise:

RoundPickOverall PickNamePositionPositional RankFunction

1

Keeper

9

Dez Bryant

WR

2

WR1

2

9

19

Matt Forte

RB

12

RB1

3

2

22

Chris Johnson

RB

14

RB2

4

9

39

Eddie Lacy

RB

20

RB3

5

2

42

Lamar Miller

RB

22

RB4

6

7

57

Rob Gronkowski

TE

3

TE1

6

9

59

Hakeem Nicks

WR

22

WR2

7

2

62

Jordy Nelson

WR

24

WR3

8

5

75

Chris Ivory

RB

30

RB5

8

9

79

Josh Gordon

WR

33

WR4

9

2

82

Steve Johnson

WR

36

WR5

10

9

99

Kenbrell Thompkins

WR

41

WR6

11

2

102

Michael Vick

QB

13

QB1

12

9

119

Justin Blackmon

WR

48

WR7

13

2

122

Rueben Randle

WR

49

WRHC

14

9

139

Zach Sudfeld

TE

14

TEHC

15

2

142

Patriots D/ST

DST

5

DST

16

9

159

Randy Bullock

K

3

K

In general, I like this team a lot. If I can win most of my games in Weeks 1-4, I think I’ll have a playoff-bound juggernaut by the time Gronk, Gordon, and Blackmon all become active. Without a doubt, this squad was built with upside and a championship in mind.

Here’s how each of these players ended up on my team. If you want these details, read on. If you don’t care at all, that’s cool too: Thanks for reading up to this point.

Dez Bryant: Keeper (#9), #2 PR, WR1

See Part 1 for details. I think he’ll be a top-3 WR in 2013. He was in 2012.

Matt Forte: 2.9 (#19), #12 PR, RB1

A question people have about going RB/RB is this: “Do I really want to take a second-tier runner over a top-tier receiver, such as Julio Jones or Brandon Marshall?” Picking near the end of Round 2, I didn’t have to face this question: Jones and Marshall went off the board right before my pick. I had hoped to snag Steven Jackson as my RB1, since I think he could be this year’s Fantasy MVP, but he went off the board right before Jones and Marshall. This pick came down to Forte v. Stevan Ridley. Even though this is a non-PPR league, I still opted for Forte. He’s looked good during the preseason, and Charles Kleinheksel has me convinced that Mark Trestman will be good to Forte. Meanwhile, Stevan Ridley highlights the All-Trap Team created by Shawn Siegele, and he’s in a possibly precarious timeshare situation. As Frank DuPont said in his RB ranking update, “I just don’t think he has that much more ability than the other RBs in NE and that’s kind of problematic.” Still I hoped to get Ridley as my RB2—I didn’t.

Chris Johnson: 3.2 (#22), #14 PR, RB2

Ridley went off the board right after Forte. Oh well. This choice came down to CJ?K, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Frank Gore. (I was forcing myself to wait on Reggie Bush to compensate for my irrational love for him, even in a non-PPR format.) As the original reason why RB-RB is back, the 2013 version of Chris Johnson looks ready to roll with an improved offensive line. He’s the perfect candidate. Meanwhile, MJD has the next Darren Sproles on his teama guy who’s a true nQBDR stud—not to mention Denard Robinson: Shoelace could be the next mid-round small stud RB. Given his age, recent return from injury, and the other RBs on his team, MJD just felt too risky. And Gore’s just old. I was tempted to take him, as he’s on my team, Riggins Rigs, in the RotoViz Dynasty League (hosted on FleaFlicker), but I just felt CJ2K was a bit better. MJD and Gore went off the board in two of the next three picks.

Eddie Lacy: 4.9 (#39), #20 PR, RB3

My league mates went on a WR run while I waited, with 3 more QBs and Jimmy Graham thrown in. (6 QBs were now off the board.) Then I got caught in the middle of a run on RBs. Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, and David Wilson all went off the board shortly before my pick. One of those guys I was avoiding, but the other two were targets: Murray is a stealth star, and Wilson may be wildly undervalued—in fact, he may be the most important man in the world. Still, I had Lacy, Bush, and Lamar Miller to choose from. Thinking that Bush and Miller are sort of similar and that at least one would still be available at my next pick, I went with the big guy. I’ve been pounding the table since before the NFL Draft saying that the Alabama RB should be the #1 pick in dynasty formats (although I also really like the case for Le’Veon Bell). In general, big SEC runners average to be low-end RB1s in their first seasons as NFL starters: Think of T-Rich, Shaun Alexander, Deuce McAllister, Arian Foster, Jamal Lewis, and Rudi Johnson. There’s also Ronnie Brown and DMC, who bring the average down a bit, but they were still solid in their first starting years. As my RB3, I think I got a big rusher with top-10 upside. He’s the expected TD-maker in Aaron Rodgers’ offense. I just couldn’t pass that up in the 20th RB off the board, even with Bush still available.

Lamar Miller: 5.2 (#42), #22 PR, RB4

Bush went off the board right after Lacy. I missed out on the 2013 Fantasy MVP Runner-Up. Oh well. I think Miller was the last player left in a certain tier of RBs, so I was glad to get him as my RB4. According to Ryan Rouillard’s RB projection model, Miller is definitely the Miami RB to roster. I really didn’t consider anyone else. It was too early for the guy I wanted as my high-upside RB5, and I certainly preferred Miller to the likes of Darren Sproles, Montee Ball, Ryan Mathews, and Ahmad Bradshaw. I also didn’t really consider a WR. 13 WRs had been drafted, and the main guys on the board in that range were Victor Cruz, Reggie Wayne, Danny Amendola, and Mike Wallace. I just didn’t see the point.

Rob Gronkowksi: 6.7 (#57), #3 PR, TE1

The plan changed. I never thought my league mates would let Gronk fall past the middle of the sixth round. You know one player they didn’t let fall that far? Daryl Richardson. My high-upside RB5 target went off the board as the 25th rusher—before Mathews, Bradshaw, Giovani Bernard, and DeAngelo Williams. I was a little disappointed. I hadn’t planned on taking D-Rich in Round 6 anyway (I was thinking about 2 WRs), but I was shooting for the top of Round 7. Didn’t happen. With my Round 7 target gone, I decided to shift my two WR targets back one pick each and take in Round 6 one of the players with perhaps the biggest upside in the draft: Gronk. As Frank DuPont said in his TE ranking update, “This is a risk seeking pick”—and yet he said this with Gronk going #51. At #57 he’s a little more of a value, and I just decided I couldn’t turn down the chance to grab the best TE in the game. In 2011 he was by far the #1 player at his position. The only WR he didn’t outscore was Calvin Johnson. OK, you say he won’t play in every game this season. That’s fine. He missed 5 games last year and was still the #2 TE. If he comes back in mid-September—or even mid-October—he’ll likely provide enough of a positional advantage on a per-game basis to justify this pick. If I get to the championship, I’ll be glad I have Gronk as my starting TE—and I’ll just have to make sure I get there by drafting the right late-round TE, which I was planning on doing anyway, so really not too much in my strategy has changed. This pick was all about drafting to win. Note that this is one of the picks I got in exchange for trading away a keeper RB (see details of the trades in Part 1). In general, I prefer Dez and Gronk to Rice/ALF and a 16th-round pick. If I treated this pick a little bit like the house’s money, that’s because it was.

Hakeem Nicks: 6.9 (#59), #22PR, WR2

Not sure how I feel about this pick. He’s one of the featured players on the All-Bounceback Team, but in that lineup he was selected with the pick #39. At #59—as the #22 WR off the board—Nicks feels heavily discounted. And yet other WRs such as Pierre Garcon, Jordy NelsonJames Jones, Antonio Brown, and Torrey Smith were still on the board—and I like most of those guys, perhaps a little more than Nicks. Still, when healthy Nicks has been a solid top-15 WR. If he’s healthy this year, I think he’ll be a solid WR2. But just in case Nicks suffers an injury, I decided to target more intently his backup late in the draft, since that guy is a good late-round WR target anyway. If I had this pick over again, I’d probably draft another WR, but I’m not regretting it too much.

Jordy Nelson: 7.2 (#62), #24 PR, WR3

Garcon was off the board, so I could either choose between Nelson, James Jones, Antonio Brown, and Torrey Smith or use the pick I had originally earmarked for D-Rich on another RB, such as Mathews, Bradshaw, or Ivory. Given that only 25 RBs had been taken off the board (after D-Rich’s selection a lull in RB-drafting definitely occurred), and given that I’m not crazy about any of the RBs that were available, I decided to draft WR once again. I went with Nelson. He’s big, and when he’s been healthy he’s been not only Rodgers’ top WR but a top-3 WR overall. If he’s healthy, I prefer him to James Jones, and Nelson is now reportedly healthy. Why Nelson over Brown and Smith? In the end, I chose to draft a guy in his prime who’s already showed his ability over two younger guys who are looking to make the jump. In the end, I’m happy to get this stud-turned-injury-sleeper as my WR3. Very few guys available in his range have his proven upside—and none of them play with Aaron Rodgers. And speaking of QBs, I should say that by the end of Round 6 my league mates had drafted 9 QBs, spotting me an extra round of RB-WR goodness. That’s why the next player was available.

Chris Ivory: 8.5 (#75), #30 PR, RB5

I really wanted D-Rich, but Ivory is a great RB5, especially in Round 7 as the #30 RB. He’s the original reason to consider RB-RB-RB. Getting him as a strong bench RB I think is a coup. Now, he’s not without his problems (staying healthy isn’t his strong suit), but he’s been stellar when he’s played, and the Jets have shown that they can turn a large RB into a reliable fantasy starter. I would’ve preferred Mathews or Giovani Bernard (he has solid agility and reminds me of a slightly shorter McCoy)—and I wasn’t ready to go with Vereen just yet (a victim of RB dissonance), and I thought it was also a tad too early to take the studly yet injured sleeping Le’Veon Bell (he could be the next Doug Martin)—so I went with Ivory. Also note that this is the second pick I got for trading away Rice and ALF (see Part 1 for details). So that’s Dez, Gronk, and Ivory v. Rice/ALF and 2 picks near the end of the draft. If I win this league it’ll be because 1) I play with idiots and 2) Dez, Gronk, and Ivory play up to their potential.

Josh Gordon: 8.9 (#79), #33 PR, WR4

We’ve written lots about Josh Gordon at RotoViz: He’s the prettiest girl at the bar, a great redraft target with elite upside, and available at a slight suspension discount. People may think this is a major reach, but it’s one I’m fine making. Off the board were all the WRs I wanted earlier, as well as the beloved T.Y. Hilton (I think he’ll still do well this year even without the Wide Receiver Whisperer), Sidney Rice (who’s younger than you think), and Tavon Austin (whom I wouldn’t have drafted anyway). Thus, the WRs for my consideration were Gordon, Steve Johnson (who’s a cheap #1 WR target), Mike Williams (he’s also a strong redraft target) and then a whole host of deep sleepers. With a pick at 9.2, I knew that either Johnson or Williams was likely to be available at my next selection—but I wasn’t sure about Gordon, and I just wasn’t going to risk losing him, because if I did and then he exploded I would be pissed, whereas if I passed on or missed Johnson and Williams and one of them did well I really wouldn’t care. If Gordon’s as good as he was last year once he cracked the lineup, then I’ll get fair value when he returns to action. And if he becomes Norv Turner’s Cleveland V-Jax, then I’ll have stolen a WR1. Gordon had to be the pick. He was my guy, and I got him.

Steve Johnson: 9.2 (#82), #36 PR, WR5

The guy who won the league went “safe” with Miles Austin and Anquan Boldin—in retrospect, I’m really lucky he didn’t snag both Johnson and Williams—so this pick came down to the underrated guy in Buffalo or the underrated guy in Tampa. I went with Stevie. Why? Last time we checked, he was coming off of 3 straight 1000-yard seasons. He’s one of the 10 most undervalued players of 2013. He’s a perpetual player in any power lineup. And he had the higher ESPN ranking, so I hoped Williams might have a chance of dropping to my next pick. He didn’t He was the next WR off the board. Whatever.

Kenbrell Thompkins: 10.9 (#99), #41 WR, WR6

This one brought the house down. Almost everyone thought I massively reached—and, in this league, perhaps I did—but it only takes one other guy to value a player the way I do for him to be drafted, and I didn’t want to risk it because 1) I thought Thompkins was already at a slight discount and 2) I knew that my next pick (11.2) would probably be a QB and then I would have to put Thompkins at risk by waiting all the way to 12.9. I just wanted to grab my guy. In a perfect world, I would’ve gotten Le’Veon Bell at this position, but he went about a round earlier, and I was even tempted by Mark Ingram as an RB6 with RB2-upside (yet another strong redraft target), but he was chosen the pick before mine. In a way I was relieved. Thompkins is a guy I really like. I think he’s essentially 2010 Deion Branch, who was a prorated top-20 WR when he returned to the Patriots, and he’s already playing in the preseason the way that established top-20 WRs play. Even if he’s only 2011 Deion Branch, then I drafted him in the right range. And if Amendola suffers an injury in the season, then Thompkins will be Brady’s #1WR. As it is, he’s the starting X receiver for the Patriots. I’m bizarrely satisfied with this pick. I think he’ll be at least a top-30 WR.

Michael Vick: 11.2 (#102), #13 QB, QB1

This pick was the compromise I made myself when deciding to go late-round QB in this league. In general, I normally don’t go hardcore LRQB, because I’m a wimp, but I figured I wasn’t going to compete with my league mates to see who could draft the most QB1s with the highest picks. Still, I wanted a QB with massive upside, and I believe Vick fits the bill. His existence sold me on LRQB in 2013. I like Andy Dalton as a sleeper, and maybe Sam Bradford will throw 50 TDs, but I don’t think that either of them will be more than serviceable low-end QB1s this year. Vick, however, has been a top-3 QB before (3 times, in fact), and he’s got the wheels to rack up extra yards on the ground. Plus, Chip Kelly’s system should mean more plays and yards for Vick, who’s looked great in the preseason. If Vick finished as a top-5 QB this year, would anybody be surprised? I took Vick as the #13 QB off the board—but I wasn’t interested in waiting around till my next pick, 12.9, to take a QB. All the QB1s were gone (the top-12 who roughly rank Rodgers through Romo), and once Eli Manning was the “top QB” on the board, I just wanted to get my guy. If Vick backfires, I’ll just stream QBs and pick up E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Matt Schaub, or Brandon Weeden. It’ll be fine.

Justin Blackmon: 12.9 (#119), #48 WR, WR7

I took more heat for this pick, but I was nearing the end of the picks I could use for non-DST/Ks, and lots of the other sleeper WRs I wanted were gone. Lance Moore, Golden Tate, Chris Givens, Michael Floyd, and even Cordarelle Patterson were off the board. Besides, I really don’t see too big of a problem in taking as the #48WR a guy who was a top-30 WR as a rookie, even if he will miss 4 games. I wouldn’t be playing him in my lineup during that time anyway, so what do I care if he misses those games? And when he comes back if he plays like he did last year then I’ll have a low-end WR3 as my WR7. If he improves any, then so much the better: Like George, I’ll have so much hand I’ll be coming out of my glove. I know that Shawn Siegele doesn’t like Blackmon on account of his Dominator Rating and Height-adjust Speed Score red flags—but his above average DR and average HaSS, when combined with his high NFL draft status in 2012, don’t exactly paint a picture of gloom, and like Gordon he’s available at a slight suspension discount. Additionally, 82.67% of top-30 rookie WRs submit subsequent top-30 seasons. There’s no guarantee that Blackmon plays like a top-30 WR this season, but I think he’s got at least a 50% chance of doing so for 12 games.

Rueben Randle: 13.2 (#122), #49 WR, WR8/WRHC

Why the hell not? Not only does he handcuff the injury-riddled Nicks, but he also handcuffs Victor Cruz, who is experiencing his own health drama right now. In other words, he has roughly double the opportunity of entering into a startable fantasy position—and as a starter he could probably do well, given the big-play ability he showed in Game 16 last year. Whereas Blackmon has DR and HaSS red flags, Randle is a DR and HaSS breakout target. As my WR8 and a handcuff to one of my starters, I really like his upside.

Zach Sudfeld: 14.9 (#139), #14 TE, TEHC

Even without Gronk, I wanted this guy entering the draft, and I’m glad I got him with my last non-DST/K selection. Jermichael Finley and Jordan Cameron were already off the board, so this pick came down to Sudfeld, Jared Cook, and Fred Davis (an underrated RotoViz target). If not for rostering Gronk, I might have selected Jared Cook, who looks like he’ll be a focal point in his offensive system, but we’ve heard things like that before and I still have my doubts. In the end, though, Sudfeld is basically Baby Gronk, and as a sleeper he’s starting to wake up—I wanted to be sure I didn’t miss out on his production, especially since some of that will come at the beginning of the season at Gronk’s expense. Additionally, even when Gronk returns Sudfeld could have massive production, just as Aaron Hernandez did. In short, Sudfeld is the best kind of handcuff—even with the starter healthy and playing, the handcuff will probably be a startable player. He’s nothing but upside. I loved this pick.

Patriots DST: 15.2 (#142), #5 DST, DST1

The 49ers, Texans, Seahawks, and Bears were off the board—wait, do you really want me to talk about why I chose the Patriots on DST? They play some crappy teams, their offense puts pressure on their opponents and often puts their DST in advantageous positions, and Julian Edelman and Leon Washington are elite return men who can score TDs. I think they’ll get a lot of sacks. I can’t believe I’ve gone on this long about a DST. I’m sure I won’t roster them the whole season. Whatever. This is my DST.

Randy Bullock: 16.9 (#159), #2K, K1

Stephen Gostkowski was already off the board, but after him I had my choice of kickers. Oh, happy world. I chose Bullock because Houston’s kicker has been solid the last few years, and Bullock has a cannon of a leg. I’m very unlikely to keep him for the whole season, but while I have him I think he’ll probably be a top-10 kicker. All I ask of a kicker is that he not totally suck when I play him. If Bullock can do that, I’ll be satisfied.

So here’s my team, presented in all its glory.

Name

Position

Positional Ranking

Overall Pick

Michael Vick

QB1

13

102

Matt Forte

RB1

12

19

Chris Johnson

RB2

14

22

Dez Bryant

WR1

2

Keeper

Hakeem Nicks

WR2

22

59

Jordy Nelson

WR3

24

62

Rob Gronkowski

TE1

3

57

Eddie Lacy

RB3

20

39

Patriots D/ST

DST

5

142

Randy Bullock

K

2

159

Lamar Miller

RB4

22

42

Chris Ivory

RB5

30

75

Josh Gordon

WR4

33

79

Steve Johnson

WR5

36

82

Kenbrell Thompkins

WR6

41

99

Justin Blackmon

WR7

48

119

Rueben Randle

WR8

49

122

Zach Sudfeld

TE2

14

139

It’s not quite the RB5 masterpiece I had planned on, but I think it’s one of the best teams in the league. Hopefully it plays that way. Agree or disagree with some of my drafting decision? Let me know on Twitter.

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